Airline carry-on restrictions: WTF?
On my last few trips I’ve noticed a marked uptick in the probability of pax being pulled up for a check of their carry-on bags, leading almost certainly to those bags being gate-checked.
I travel a lot, and mostly for short trips - meaning one to three nights away, often with multiple stops in between. This means that having my luggage checked dramatically increases the chance of SNAFUs. Therefore I own a super-light roll-aboard, pack sparingly, and weigh it before departure to make sure I’m below the stingy 8kg limit.
Lately, even this level of paranoia has not been enough. I have had my below-weight roll-aboard gate-checked because my rucksack was "too big".
Now this is a standard 20L day-pack, not some expedition-grade monster, and it contains a MacBook, an iPad, their retinue of charger bricks and cables - and that’s pretty much it. Sure, there are usually some mints and a stick of lip-balm rolling around the bottom, but it’s not like I have a tent and a sleeping bag in there. Yet, this is apparently outside the regulation size for a "personal item".
My question is, what do airlines think a "laptop bag" should be? The only way I could lose any significant weight would be to leave the charger cables at home, and that would negatively affect the usefulness of the laptop just a bit. Meanwhile, women’s handbags are never checked, despite the fact that my wife carries a bigger and heavier bag when she goes shopping than I shoulder for travel.
There is some sort of assumption here about what a laptop bag is that I’m not sure airlines get.
The paranoid assumption would be that they are trying to make us pay extra for checked bags. I do indeed often travel on hand-luggage-only fares, but it’s not to save money. In fact, it’s the other way around: I never check luggage unless I am forced to, and therefore I take advantage of these (very slightly) cheaper fares.
The real problem here is people - monsters - putting two bags in the overhead lockers. Regardless of size, this is a jerk move. Unless you’re sitting in an emergency-exit or bulkhead row, where you have to, don’t do this, period. Your roll-aboard goes in the overhead locker, and your personal item goes at your feet. If it doesn’t fit, that’s a clue you’re doing it wrong!
As for airlines: enforce what matters. If the limit is 8kg and someone rocks up with a bag that’s practically spherical and straining at its zippers, and which weighs in at 15kg, that’s fair game for a gate check. In fact I would argue that such blatant fare evasion would be worth a paid gate check, but I don’t want to give airlines any ideas!
However, if someone has a rollaboard that fits in the cage, doesn’t abuse the weight limit, and has one more bag that they keep "at your feet or under the seat in front of you", as the announcement puts it - let it go. Seriously, those people are good customers who don’t cause trouble because their entire ambition is to get through the airport as swiftly and efficiently as possible. They have the equipment and experience to do this; all they ask is that you work with them, rather than against them.
This has been your First World Problem for the week.